One game at a time

Hall, Bellarmine gear up to play in NCAA Div. II tourney

By Linda Younkin Published:

Now, with each game, Vance Hall’s collegiate basketball career hangs in the balance.

So the Bellarmine University senior is focusing on each game as the Knights begin play in the NCAA Div. II National Championship Saturday.

“It’s a little more taking it one game at a time,” Hall said. “It’s tournament time, and it’s survive and advance. You’ve got to focus on the game in front of you.”

The Knights (23-7) will play Indianapolis at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Springfield, Mo.

Bellarmine, a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference, received an at-large bid into the tournament after finishing as runner-up to Southern Indiana in the GLVC tournament.

Playing in arguably the toughest Div. II conference, all seven of the Knights’ losses have come in conference play.

Bellarmine is the No. 7 seed in the Midwest Region, and Indianapolis (23-4) is the No. 2 seed.

There are three other GLVC teams in the Midwest Region — Wisconsin-Parkside, Southern Indiana and defending national champion and top-seeded Drury.

“I think the team feels comfortable,” Hall said about Saturday’s game. “We feel comfortable going into all our games in the tournament. Most of the teams in our bracket are from our conference. We’ve played them before, we’ve played everyone once, and we’re prepared for everything.”

This will be the fourth meeting between Bellarmine and Indianapolis. Indy defeated the Knights 81-79 Jan. 16 in Louisville, but BU came back to beat the Greyhounds 96-81 Feb. 22 at Indianapolis. In the conference tournament quarterfinals Bellarmine won 90-74 with Hall scoring a game-high 26 points.

A guard, Hall is averaging 14.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. He’s shooting 49 percent from the field, including 40 percent from 3-point range, and 75 percent from the free throw line.

He leads the Knights in assists with 142 and steals with 31.

Hall, a graduate of Franklin County High School, started his collegiate career at Wright State but transferred after two years.

“It was just not a good fit for me,” he said.

Bellarmine didn’t recruit Hall out of FCHS but did when he decided to leave Wright State.

“It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made,” Hall said about transferring to Bellarmine. “I’m definitely happy with the situation. From the guys on the team to the coaching staff, just all around it’s been a great experience.”

Bellarmine’s success on the court didn’t hurt. The Knights are making their sixth straight appearance in the NCAA Div. II national tournament and their 15th overall. They won the national championship in 2011.

“It was a winning program before I made it here,” Hall said, “and that was a big influence too.”

Bellarmine was ranked in the top five early in the season. The Knights dropped out of the top 25 but received votes in the latest poll.

“We’ve obviously had our ups and downs,” Hall said about the season, “but I couldn’t be more pleased with how this team has played and to play with this group of guys.”

Because some of his credits from Wright State didn’t transfer to Bellarmine, Hall will be a few hours shy of graduating in May. He plans to earn his degree and stay involved in basketball.

“I plan on going overseas and playing some ball,” he said. “I’d like to play basketball as long as I can.

“I definitely want to be a coach when I get older, when I get out of college and get out of playing basketball.”

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